Friday, March 23, 2012

CHURCH IS A PLACE WHERE YOU ARE ASSURED OF GOD'S LOVE

YORK TOWN CRIER ARTICLE
"Why don't you go to church?"  I've asked this question of people many times over the years. The answers are pretty predictable. "I don't need to go to church to be a Christian." That’s the most common reply. "I just don't have time" is another. Closely related to it is the excuse - "Sunday is the only day I have to sleep in or spend with my family."  There are also those who simply think that going to church is a waste of time.
Maybe a better question might be, "Why don't you go to church?" Or, “Why do you need to go to church?"  Whether we want to admit it or not, we need  church.  We might not want to get out and get some exercise but it is something we need to do to stay healthy.  More importantly, we also need to go to church to keep our souls fit.
We live in a world that is filled with lots of problems.  They come from without and from within.  Problem marriages, strained relationships, strife in the work place, and persecution are just of few of the difficulties we face.  Add to this, low self-esteem, fear, depression, loneliness, financial difficulties, failing health, the loss of a loved one, etc., etc., etc., etc.  You know what I mean.  You know what you are going through.
So often, we try to weather all these things on our own.  We look for the inner strength to handle them all, to survive as best we can. How much better it would be if we took sanctuary with the Lord! When you come to God's house for worship, you are reminded that you have a God who loves you. No matter how others may treat you or feel about you,  GOD LOVES YOU! No matter how difficult your situation may be, GOD LOVES YOU!  While you may wonder if anyone in the world cares about you, at church, you will hear the good news again and again, GOD LOVES YOU! No matter who you are.  No matter what you have done, GOD LOVES YOU!
How can I be so sure?  How do I know this is true? As children sing it so simply and beautifully, "Cause the Bible tells me so!"  God has revealed this precious truth to us in his Word.  And every time we go to church we will hear it again.  GOD LOVES YOU! 
Why go to church?  We need to be reminded of God's love.  We need to hear that God loved us so much that he gave his one and only Son to die for us so that we might have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)  "This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  (I John 4:9) Go to church.  You need it.  You need to hear about God's love!

THANK GOD - OUR SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN

The other day I was on the computer and was looking up records for baseball players. I read about a base ball player named Herman Long. He played in the National League for 17 years as shortstop – mostly for Boston in the 1890s. He was an aggressive player. He was the National League homerun leader in 1900. He batted over 300 four of the years he played. He also scored over a 100 runs in seven of the years he played. What’s really amazing is that he still holds the record for scoring 9 times in times in a single game.
Herman Long is most noted, however, for also scoring the most errors of any other player in the Major League – 1,096. He messed up a lot. He would throw the ball over the first baseman’s head. He would throw it into the ground. He dropped lots of balls he should have caught.
What is just as amazing is that there was someone watching every time he played who kept track of all the errors or mistakes he made. Every time he dropped the ball or threw the ball into the stands by mistake, someone kept track and wrote it down.
Can you imagine what it would be like if God did that with us? How would you feel if someone was watching every move you made and wrote down every sin you committed? What if that included every sinful thought and desire you had in your heart?  It is a frightening thought, isn’t it?
And yet God knows all these things. He knows or sees every sin we commit. He knows every sinful desire of our heart and sinful thought that enters our head. He knows the sins we commit that we aren’t even aware of; the sins we might want to justify. He knows them all!
When just one sin condemns us, we are in a heap of trouble. While Herman Long made over a thousand errors over his seventeen year career, our sins must number in the millions.
Yet, let us not despair. During the Lenten season we are reminded that Jesus took our sins to the cross. At Calvary Jesus paid for those sins when he, the Son of God, holy and righteous, laid down his life for all sinners. Jesus faced the wrath of his Father, endured the pain and torment of hell, to pay for our sins. Isaiah says it well, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5).
When we stand before God on Judgment Day, washed clean by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, all our errors, all our sins, will no longer be there to condemn us. We will be righteous in God’s sight through Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Flee temptation! Good advice from one who knows!

Next to the fall of Adam and Eve, the fall into sin by King David is perhaps the most familiar account of a fall in all the Old Testament.  David's sins of adultery and murder stand out sharply against the background of a man who is described in the Bible as "a man after the Lord's own heart."  David's story has been glamorized by movie makers but it's not that at all.  It is a frightening reminder of how vulnerable we all are.  His sins stand there as a valuable lesson and warning for us all.
David had reached the highpoint of his career.  He had distinguished himself in many ways. But sometimes the most dangerous times in our lives, the times when we are most vulnerable in our spiritual life, is when everything is going well. When life is hard, and we're struggling just to hold on, God is never far away.
David allowed himself to grow idle and become complacent.  He stayed back in Jerusalem while his troops went off to war.  He was bored.  From his palace he gazed upon a beautiful woman bathing nearby.  Her name was Bathsheba.  He forgot his devotion to God.  He forgot what was right and wrong. 
He sent his servant to find out more about her.  The servant came back with a gentle reminder for David. Knowing what David had in mind, the servant tactfully asked, "Isn't this Bathsheba,... the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"
David didn't heed the warning. He slept with Bathsheba and soon after learned that she was pregnant.  At this point David should have confessed his sin and turned to the Lord for forgiveness.  Instead, he set out to cover his tracks.  In the end, he arranged to have Bathsheba's husband killed in battle.  How the mighty have fallen!
What happened to David could happen to you and me. Look at the disgrace that many clergy have brought to their high calling by committing flagrant and disgraceful sins.  Instead of setting an example for God's people, they succumbed to covetousness, greed and lust.  David is a reminder that no one is above temptation or falling into grievous sins.
The truth is that it can happen to any one of us.  Just one "little" affair can destroy a family and a marriage.  Just one too many drinks can end up in an accident that takes the life of another human being.  The love of money can lead to committing fraud and embezzlement. Don't say, "It could never happen to me!"  That's how David must have surely felt.  It can happen to you or to me. Look into the Scriptures for examples.  Look around you.
With good reason, God tells us to flee temptation.  Stay close to God and his Word for it is only with his help that we can successfully resist the temptation to sin.  And when we fall, and we surely will, let us go back to the Lord, as David finally did, and ask for his forgiveness.